"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing,
while others judge us by what we have already done."
Omar Abdullah while addressing a party function at Srinagar on 23rd of February at the first death anniversary of senior National Conference leader Sheikh Nazir Ahmed said, "that New Delhi 'dishonored' the terms and condition of Jammu & Kashmir's accession with union of India. Who are you to snatch our flag?. This flag is our identity……we will protect till our death". While revisiting the long chequered political history of Kashmir, Omar Abdullah is trying to portray that the National Conference has always stood for political aspirations of people of Kashmir. Ever since the Accession, the Sheikh dynasty, has ruled the state for more than 30 years and as and when, they are out of power in political turbulence, they raise the slogan of 'Plebiscite' 'Aazadi' and 'Autonomy' which they have never meant but used as a political trump card to exploit the public sentiments. As the members of the civilized society, it becomes our duty to put the historical political facts in the right perspective.
For almost last seven decades, the whole of Indian subcontinent in general and the people of Jammu & Kashmir in particular are caught in a political turmoil which has consumed three generations. When the freedom movement in India was at its climax in 1947 and subcontinent was ready to divide in the name of religion, Maharaja Hari Singh was indecisive about Accession of Kashmir in favour of India or Pakistan. To click the deal in favour of India, stress circumstances were created in favour of Maharaja Hari Singh to compel him to sign the instrument of accession in favour of India. As mentioned by Tarif Naaz in his book 'Sheikh Abdullah a victim of betrayal' Sheikh Abdullah who was present in Delhi on 25th of Oct, 1947 also requested Pt. Nehru to accede to Maharaja's request for Military help, when the same was being discussed in defense cabinet committee meeting under the chairmanship of Lord Mount Batten. Against the laid down principles of partition plan of 3rd June 1947 of Indian Independence Act, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah was the principal architect of Accession of Jammu & Kashmir with Union of India. It was because of his proximity with Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1938, Muslim Conference was converted into National conference which changed the political discourse and the direction of the freedom struggle of people of Kashmir.
After Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India on 26th Oct 1947, the Indian Government was under tremendous international pressure to implement the UN Security Council resolutions passed on 21st April 1948 and 13th August 1948, which directed both India and Pakistan to resolve Kashmir dispute through impartial plebiscite. Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah opposed the UN resolution during his historical speech in UN Security Council on 5th February 1948, where he said, "if Pakistan comes forward and says, we question the legality of Accession, I am prepared to discuss……………………. We shall prove before the Security Council that Kashmir and the people of Kashmir have lawfully and constitutionally acceded to the Dominion of India, and Pakistan has no right to question that Accession". Again in 1950 when UN nominated Sir Owen Dixon, an Australian jurist, as the United Nations representative recommended 'Regional Plebiscite in Jammu & Kashmir', National Conference was the first to reject it in its General Council meeting on 27th Oct 1950. Sheikh decided to convene a Constituent Assembly to ratify the Accession of Jammu & Kashmir State with India and on 5th Nov 1951, while making an inaugural speech in the Constituent Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir, while pleading for ratification of Accession with India, he had all praises for its secular democracy and reminded the house that, "that the only powerful argument which can be advanced in favour of Accession with Pakistan is that it is a Muslim State and Jammu & Kashmir is having a big majority of Muslim population. The appeal to religion constitutes a sentimental and wrong approach to the question. Sentiments has its own place in life but often it leads to irrational action". In 1953 on the question of state – centre relationship suspicion fueled between Delhi and Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah when he was arrested on 9th Aug 1953. To reinvent himself with the sentiments of people of Kashmir, he through Mirza Mohammed Afzal Beig, floated a new political party 'Plebiscite Front' on 9th Aug 1955. After his release, in 1972, Sheikh again showed an Olive branch to New Delhi for his rehabilitation, when he entered into an agreement, on 13th Nov 1974, famously known as 'Indira – Sheikh Accord'. The accord was nothing but the surrender of 'freedom struggle' of Kashmir. Massive mandate of 1977 was a public approval for restoration of internal Autonomy. Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah ruled the state up to Sept 1982 but Autonomy remained un-achieved.
After on set of militancy in 1996, Narsimha Rao's offer of "Autonomy with sky as the limit" was the main poll plank of National Conference which returned Farooq Abdullah to power with a clear cut mandate. Autonomy resolution passed on 27th June 2000 by Farooq Govt. was rejected by NDA Government at centre, of which Omar Abdullah was a part. To counter the Gen. Pervez Musharraf's four point formula, in 2006 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unilaterally appointed five working groups to look into all the aspects of Kashmir problem. Of these the recommendations of justice Sagir and C. Rangarajan were most important. Justice Sagir recommended the restoration of internal Autonomy as demanded by National Conference and the report submitted to the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in October 2010 was referred to cabinet sub-committee of the collation Govt. which was granted seven extensions. The recommendations were never forwarded to Government of India till Omar Abdullah relinquished his office in Jan 2015. In response to 2010 unrest, the recommendations of Interlocutors headed by Dileep Padgaonkar for setting up 'Constitutional Committee' to review all acts and Articles of the constitution of India extended to Jammu & Kashmir, has eaten dust in Home Ministry. Omar Abdullah during his six years rule has failed to pursue these initiatives of Govt. of India and take a stand for implementation of these recommendations which at least to his understanding could have made some head way in political resolution of Kashmir problem.
Sheikh Nazir no doubt was the symbol of 'Kashmiri nationalism', who was never in favour of India. When, while addressing the party workers on 19th January 2013 at Srinagar, he raised the demand of plebiscite, Omar Abdullah tweeted, I quote "I don't need anyone to make things difficult for me when I have relatives. They say never work with animals and children. I think it is safe to add relatives to that list". Abdullahs and Delhi have long history of love – hate relations. The two never lived happily, yet never divorced each other. As long as political aspirations of divided Kashmir remains un- achieved, Abdullah dynasty shall continue to face political audit by those who are yet to be born.
(Ab Qayoom Khan (IFS) Rtd. is Member All India Muslim Majlis – e- Mushawarat.)